A power of attorney is usually established where; a person (the principal) isn’t in a position to make crucial decisions. It could be for a given period, or it could be for a lifetime. It is therefore necessary to allocate the power to a trustworthy person and one who you are certain will act to your best interest, irrespective of the position you are in at the time. A power of attorney is in many cases, abused, living the principal suffering and with no one to fend for them, this mostly occurs in seniors. Family members should carefully look for any signs of fraud and take the appropriate action in time before the situation worsens.
Possible signs of fraud
It is the duty of the agent to act in the best interest of the principal. However, if this changes, legal action could be sought. Power of attorney fraud lawyers are always there to help you, in suits and guide you on the best course of action to take. Possible signs that someone is misusing their power of attorney,
- Reluctance to communicate with other persons; family members, or failure to do it all together and having been communicating quite often before.
- An unexpected change in the principal’s medical affairs, or financial affairs that are quite questionable as well.
- Agent’s refusal or reluctance to share the financial position of the principal
- Increased demands that the principal signs unexplained documents
- Visible signs of financial exploitation, for instance, sudden rise in financial status of the agent
These could however just be speculations, however, take the step of contacting a power of attorney fraud attorney to advise on the way forward, this will either dismiss your claim or confirm it, and appropriate action is taken in time.
Forms of fraud
Power of attorney fraud could take different forms, from lying to acquire the power or falsely acquiring a power of attorney to acting for your interest rather than that of the principal.
Instances that the agency is acquired falsely could be through forgery or coercing a person into signing. However, the persons to whom the transactions are presented may not know this and hence end up transacting with the fraudulent agent, family members or any other interested party with the interest of the principal at heart should take legal measures to correct the situation, more so where the principal is incapacitated.
Embezzlement is also a common form of fraud, many end up utilizing the principal’s assets to finance their luxuries, at the expense of the principal, adequate prove ought to be acquired to prove this and hence, working close to a lawyer will speed up the process since they are much competent and experienced in the area.
Different states have different ways of handling power of attorney fraud cases. The state laws, however, are quite vigilant on power of attorney abuse and frauds and take adequate measures to ensure that the welfare of the principal. The principal, or members of the family or friends, on suspicion of fraud, may sue for damages, claim conversion of property back to the principal, or for embezzlement. Your attorney will, however, guide on the right move to take to ensure the wellbeing of your relative (principal) or friend.
Ways of preventing power of attorney fraud
- A power of attorney involves making decisions that involve your welfare as an individual, take time to choose the best person to appoint.
- The person ought to be trustworthy, and one you are confident will act with your best interest at heart. Don’t be in a rush to do this; you are bound to suffer sooner or later.
- Care should be taken when signing a durable power of attorney, it could last a lifetime, and hence take the time to make the decision.
- Retain the power to revoke the power of attorney until it’s necessary to give it up. This will ensure that you are always in control and that the agent will always act in your best interests.
A power of attorney is one decision that one ought to be so careful when signing. However, family members have the responsibility to their seniors, handicapped and incapacitated persons to prevent any fraud. However, if it occurs, you have the best lawyers in town.